At a Subtly Different Frequency

At a Subtly Different Frequency

by Michelle Ann King

If there’s one thing Maggie knows, it’s that something has always been wrong with her life. She’s the wrong shape for it, somehow; she doesn’t fit.

At first, she assumes she must be adopted, despite her parents’ protestations, because she clearly doesn’t belong here, in this place with these people. But she can’t imagine any other kind of place, or any other kind of people, that would suit her any better. Her friends’ families are equally wrong, as are all the ones she sees on TV or reads about in books and newspapers. She doesn’t feel as if she’s been kidnapped, or orphaned, or tragically lost. She doesn’t feel as if she might be a secret princess.

No, the only sensible explanation is that she’s not human. She’s a changeling, an alien, a denizen of an alternate dimension. She might look the same, but every atom in her body resonates at a subtly different frequency. Not enough to give her away to anyone else, but enough for Maggie herself to recognise that she doesn’t belong here.

She keeps a bag packed at all times, thinking it won’t be long before her purpose, her mission, is revealed. But the Earth years go by and no portal opens, no spaceship lands, no instructions are communicated. She simply gets older.

She adapts, after a fashion; takes exams, applies for jobs, enters relationships, and does her best to mourn when the beings who raised her come to the end of their physical existence. She travels the world and documents her experiences, in case data collection is her true function. She pursues a career in politics, in case she’s a sleeper agent and needs to be in a position of power when the invasion begins. She even tries to have fun, in case she’s a soldier on an extended period of shore leave.

When her human body enters its own final degeneration, she reviews her efforts and comes to the conclusion that, given her limited knowledge of the operational parameters, she’s done the best she could.

She smiles, closes her eyes, and waits to see what happens next.

Michelle Ann King
Michelle Ann King writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror from her kitchen table in Essex, England. She loves zombies, Las Vegas, and good Scotch whisky — not necessarily in that order — and her favourite authoris Stephen King (sadly, no relation). Her short story collection Transient Tales is available in ebook and paperback now, and she is currently at work on a paranormal crime novel. Find more details at

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